Sunday, February 28, 2010

I need to start writing fiction again

I used to write fiction as much as I could in my spare time. It is something that I love to do, but I haven't done it in the last year. There are a lot of reasons such as starting a non-profit and making time to go out and see my horse and being busy with a kid in kindergarten and volunteering at the school once a week along with still working part-time. But part of it too is that I just haven't been motivated.

I have to have the right mojo to write. I can't write just by thinking about it, I need to have the story running in my head like a movie to write it down, and the last year or so my mind has not been in a place where stories run through my head - at least not enough for writing down a fiction story. I think I will try and change that and try to make some specific time for writing because it really does energize me and keep my spirits up. Much like working with horses does.

Hubby and I went out to Girlfriend's stable yesterday to take her some supplements and to go to the feed store to buy chicken feed yesterday. On Thursday I had a lesson with her using Texas's snaffle bit bridle and it went really well. Unfortunately, when I was there yesterday a little boy was riding Texas so I couldn't use her bridle. I ordered a new English bridle from so I'm waiting for that to arrive because Girlfriend did really well in Texas's bridle. Sheryl said she was moving just like an English trained horse which is amazing since all her formal training was Western. But that just shows what an exceptional horse she is.

I used the hackamore and she still did very well keeping her head straight and staying quiet. It was even more impressive because there were four horses in the arena and that always gets her amped up. Especially when it's a lesson and in order for me to do my practice ride I need to keep up with what the other riders are doing so I won't disrupt the class.

The little boy riding Texas was making me nervous for him. He was really small and didn't seem very strong and Texas, although she is a safe horse to ride is kind of stubborn girl and she doesn't like to canter. Sheryl told him to canter with her and Texas went faster and faster at the trot like she does and he was slipping all over the place in that English saddle and he looked so little and frail that I had to remind myself that Sheryl wouldn't have him riding Texas if he wasn't able to. He never did fall off, but I realized I am going to be just like my mom was when I was little and riding - far more upset when Emma June falls up than she will probably be.

Although Emma June already has a pretty good seat after 18 months of being led on leadline rides with Girlfriend and practicing things like riding without hands and riding backwards and turning around in the saddle. Plus, she's pretty strong and a couple of the kids who take lessons with Sheryl have definitely spent most of their time on the couch so they don't have quite as good of a seat. This will be good for them but as a parent it's hard to watch them and not worry they're going to slide right off that saddle and go thunk whenever the horse does a rough transition from trot to canter.

I finally am not worrying so much every time I get on Girlfriend that I'm going to fall off. And I'm starting to feel more like if I fall off it won't be so horrible. I try to remember all the times I fell off horses as a kid and how it wasn't such a big deal, but then I wasn't all flared up from arthritis back then either. At least I'm not thinking about it every time I get on her anymore.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

disconcerting ride

I actually had some time this morning to head out to the stable by myself to go ride. I spent awhile going over some of my new tack with Sheryl and realizing I had the wrong kind of girth that I ordered online for cheap but now couldn't return because I'd cut the tags off. Bah! And I'd gotten the wrong size saddle pad. But at least I can use the saddle pad someday if we get a pony. The girth will have to go the way of ebay I think. At least I got the right kind of snaffle bit. After waaaaaay too much time researching English bits.

Anyway, after all that, I got Girlfriend all ready to go and she was actually being really calm (considering she's in heat). We got out in the arena and I put my foot in the stirrup and swung my leg over just as she slowly started to walk away. That was unusual that she walked slowly away. Usually she does a little jig as soon as my first foot is in the stirrup. Then she was walking slowly and kept stopping to rub her nose on her leg. So I got off and checked her headstall and there was one strap that may have been bugging her so I fixed that and thought everything was fine.

I mounted her again and this time she stood still which actually threw me off balance a little because I was over-compensating like I always do in order to balance while she's walking away. Once again, walked slowly, kept stopping to rub her face on her right leg. I dismounted again and checked everything and couldn't find what was bothering her. There was a little bit of caked mud under the nose band of her hackamore so I brushed that off. Got back on (this time ready for her to stand still although she actually walked slowly off this time). Same thing.

I guessed it might be behavioral so as soon as she began to lower her head I gave her a firm correction tug to lift her head, which she did, but she wasn't happy about it. I tried going to a trot and she did really well for about half the arena, then stopped abruptly and pulled her head down to rub her face on her leg. After composing myself since I almost lost my balance when she did that, I had her walk a little more (with much pulling down of her head to rub it on her leg) and finally said, "Fuck it!" and got off her and took off her saddle and bridle. She didn't do her regular turn and run thing that she does when I let her loose in the arena. Instead she stood next to me and nudged me a couple times then put her head against my chest. I gave her a hug and took her tack back to the tack room and she stood next to the arena door and waited for me. It was strange.

I was feeling pretty pissy though. I had been looking forward to riding and something was obviously bothering her and I couldn't figure out what it was. And I didn't have time to tack up and ride one of Sheryl's horses. I was relieved after I put Girlfriend's blanket back on and then got Doc to put in the arena with her, that she pepped up and acted like her old self again. At one point Doc was standing over by the door, soaking up the sun and Girl and I were on the other side of the arena and she looked over at him, did her little head toss she does, then spun around and galloped over to him and put her nose up again his, then backed up and put her head on his back like she does when she wants to hug him.

Monday, February 22, 2010

tricks of light

Yesterday was lovely. We went to Bainbridge Island to visit some friends and played down at the beach at Ford Ward State Park. There's a lovely area for beginners like me to take the kayak out. I think that I will try kayak fishing in that little inlet this summer. Our friend, Alex is very interested in going with me, which is good because my husband is not at all interested in kayaking (unless we were in the Atlantic Ocean in August). I never thought I was a boat person - in fact I always thought I got seasick - but then last summer when I went kayaking that kind of got me hooked a little bit. Then when my mom and I took my daughter out in a rowboat on the Puget Sound and it was a bit rocky and I said, "Oh, this might bother me," and my mom asked, "When did you start getting seasick?" and I said, "I always have - haven't I?" and she said, "No, you never did as a kid." Hmmm ... I really don't know where I got that idea. I do know that I get sick to my stomach watching films with "jiggly cam" but that's not really a seasick motion it's more of a can't quite focus because everything keeps shaking and spinning motion. I'm not ready to go out on a little fishing boat in rough waters, but I think I need to start trying out being on boats more often now that I apparently have never actually been seasick.

I do like going out on the ferry. I like the smell of the salt water and the sound of the waves. The smell of the salt water is very much like the smell of my childhood since I grew up two blocks from the Puget Sound. Just like the sound of seagulls and airplanes is the sound of my childhood (we were in the SeaTac flight path).

There are some super nice, affordable houses down on the south end of Bainbridge that I was drooling over yesterday. One of them is so close to Alex and Dawn's house that as Alex said, "I could just open the window and throw you the sugar". I'm not sure if I want to live on an island though because I'd have to take the ferry to go see my rheumatologist because there are apparently none on the island. And Amazon Fresh doesn't deliver there. God, that is pathetic isn't it? Here part of me wants to live off-grid and part of me wants to live in the delivery area for Amazon Fresh. That's the other thing is the houses are so modern even down to propane fireplaces. I'd rather have a wood burning stove. I guess you could add solar panels to any house though no matter when it was built. Plus, I have heard so much about how Bainbridge has gone super-yuppie so I'm not sure how the neighbors would feel about chickens and composting and all that next to them. Unless I could convince them I am a great science resource for their young children. Hmmm ... there's an angle ...

My husband took this photo at the beach yesterday of our daughter and her "true love prince". You can't really see it but she's wearing her fancy dress (to impress him) and her rain boots (to stomp in mud!). She's a well-rounded girl. I'm proud of her. I love how the sunlight makes stars in this photo. On the ferry back to Seattle in the late afternoon my husband and I were commenting on the bright spots in the water where the sun was reflecting off the large glass windows of buildings on Alki and how it looked like spots of sun coming through cloud breaks even though there were no clouds in the sky. I wish we'd had the camera out for that.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cowgrrl goes to a trendy bar

A couple old friends had a show at The Crocodile last night for a reunion of their old band. I thought I would go for a few reasons - I enjoy their music and wanted to see the guitar player who I haven't seen in 15 years and I wanted to support them in their getting back to playing music.

Doors opened at 8pm and there were two opening bands so the hubby and I thought if we got there around 9:30 we'd be in time to miss the first band and then bide our time through the second, watch Satchel play and be home to pick up the kid from the babysitter by midnight. Oh ... poor poor middle-aged folks with no clue. We got there at 9:30 and the opening band was nowhere near starting. Had I tried to reach back in my memory to all the shows I went to in my youth I would've realized this would be the case. Anyway, we got there and found a place to sit and we sat and sat and sat. We were able to talk somewhat but it was still pretty loud and hard for me to yell enough to be heard. When the bands started playing it was impossible for me to yell loud enough to be heard. I quickly started to get bored. I wished I had brought my knitting. My husband wished he had brought his book.

Other than the couple people in the band there was no one I knew there until my old friend, Loren showed up. I would've liked to have talked to him more than we did but there was that whole yelling-can't-really-be-heard thing which was frustrating. Hubby and I went outside so we could talk without screaming, then got cold very quickly and went back inside. I wanted to find something to read but all they had was The Stranger newspaper and I won't read that because they are so obnoxious and cooler-than-thou. It was a weird feeling, a sense that I was truly *not* in my element. Even though as a teenager and in my twenties I lived to go to shows and hang out with "cool people". What was I thinking? That was never me.

I did end up talking to lots of strangers to entertain myself. One guy about my age was looking at the photos on the walls of famous rock stars from the 60' and 70's and he couldn't believe that I didn't recognize Neil Young or the Sonics. I told him I may have heard their music but didn't know what they looked like when I was a little kid in the 70's, but I would recognize Shawn Cassidy. He kind of recoiled from me and it was all I could do not to say, "You're kidding, right? You really base my worth on whether or not I know some old rock stars?" I did really enjoy Satchel though. I did not enjoy being bumped around in the crowd and having big drunk, guys step on my feet and not even apologize. Trendy bars just aren't any fun if one doesn't drink (well, they are actually pretty unbearable) and I don't like drinking.

Our daughter spent the evening at my friend, Star's house with her 11 year old and 12 year old daughter's so she was in heaven. She thinks they are so cool. I took them all out to see Girlfriend and the other horses before I took EJ over to their house and on the way home in the car all three of them were singing a Selene Gomez song together. I really wish I'd gotten that on video so that when I need to melt from cuteness I'd have it.

Star's older daughter wasn't ready to ride a horse yet, but her younger daughter rode Oh No (Doc was in a lesson). I was very happy that Sheryl trusts me now enough to let me take Oh No out with the kids. I was concerned that he was going to be a butthead and not go anywhere but he was on incredible behavior yesterday. When Star's daughter got on him he just started walking away. She's just a little girl who hasn't ridden many horses so she was just figuring out how to use the reins, but Oh No actually listened to her and was very compliant. She also seems like a natural in the saddle. I could not for the life of me figure out what was up with him and why he was acting so ... not like Oh No. I think I will try to ride him next time I'm out there and see if he is good like that again or if he was just having some sort of weird day where he wasn't feeling lazy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

just teachin' her to eat the other children

This evening after my daughter, EJ ate a few bites of chicken and mac & cheese and then wandered off to listen to Hannah Montana and play in her room with the door closed ... there was a brief period of just me at the dinner table. My husband was off doing something that had distracted him from dinner so I was reading the Sunday paper while I was eating. I looked up at one point and saw that the kitten had jumped on the table and was trying to rip apart a piece of EJ's chicken that was about half the size of her head. Thinking that was kind of cute I watched her for a minute, then went back to reading my article on high interest annuities. A few minutes later I heard my husband bellow, "Oh my god! The kitten is stealing my chicken!" (well, technically it was EJ's left over chicken but whatever). That was followed up by, "Why did you just sit there and let her steal chicken off the plate?"

I had one of those moments of realization of "Crap - my behavior just now was not normal by the standards of these alien beings I live amongst," so I tried to make a joke out of it by saying, "Oh you know, I'm just teachin' her to eat the other children." (meaning the chickens in the backyard that she is so fascinated by). It did get me thinking, is it going to encourage her to continue trying to hunt the chickens since we let her eat cooked chicken? Probably not. She would probably want to eat our pet chickens anyway.

Something that occurred to me today was that I am happy to have pet chickens and eat chickens in our house because I think it gives EJ a realistic idea about where our food comes from. This afternoon I said, "Could you ask your dad to help you with that? I need to get the chicken ready to put in the oven," and she asked, "Which chicken?" and I said, "The dead one that's already plucked in the bottom drawer of the fridge," and she said, "Ok," and went off to find her dad. It wasn't until I was in third or fourth grade I really started thinking about where meat came from and it freaked me out. I'm sure I knew it was animals, but I never really put two and two together long enough for it to sink in. EJ, on the other hand, has known from the start where meat comes from and it is not a big deal to her. I think shielding children from meat being animals ends up being more damaging than letting them no from the very beginning where it comes from. She knows that in our society we don't eat dogs, but if we went to Vietnam it is totally normal to them to eat dogs. And in India a lot of people would be offended that we eat cows.

This afternoon the whole family drove down to Renton to look at a house for sale. Renton was not on our list of places to move, but this house had a lake in the backyard. It was a very sweet little house, just about the perfect little size for our small family although it was only on a half acre. But it has a lake in the backyard!!! EJ and I loved it, especially when two swans swam by while we were looking at the dock in the backyard. But a beaver had built a dam this year by a drainage area and the lake was 8 feet higher than normal and the ground was very damp. So my husband is convinced that it is a little mini-Lake-Pontchatrain waiting to cause disaster to nearby residents. And I don't have enough knowledge about such things to prove him wrong so I say better safe than sorry. If we really loved the place we could get an inspector out there and tell us what the flood risks are, but that would be a big commitment to hire someone to do all that. Meanwhile though, I did spend a good portion of this evening reading about septic systems specifically on waterfront properties. I now can use terms like drainfield, groundwater and "if the soil perks" with impunity.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the curse of gifted children

In the Seattle Public schools there is an option for parents to have their children tested as early as kindergarten to see if they are "gifted" and therefore qualified to be in the advanced learning program for gifted children. Initially, I wasn't going to have our daughter take the test because I didn't want her to deal with the madness that is "gifted children programs" but then I realized if she does end up being a genius like her dad, then I want her to be challenged so she won't get bored at school. So, a few months ago we tromped down to the school cafeteria on a Saturday morning so she could take a test that (as we explained it to her) "would determine which first grade class she would like the best." I figured that was a nicer way to put it than "you're going to take a test to see if you're smart so you'd better try really hard because if you don't pass we'll be disappointed!" which I'm learning appears to be the norm in our neighborhood.

Well, last Friday we all got our results. And apparently all hell has broken loose. Last night I helped lead tours for parents of incoming students next fall and during our little "tour guide orientation" the PTA president said, "DON'T answer any questions about the gifted student program! That is a question for the principal. Just have that be your mantra "That is a question for the principal". Believe me - you don't want to get into the mess that is talking to parents about the gifted student program."

After the tour (which was kinda hard on me because I really don't like public speaking and I had this group of parents trailing behind me expecting to talk to them like ... a tour guide or something ... the only reason I agreed to do it is because I'm a little bit smitten with the PTA treasurer and when she asked me I didn't have the presence of mind to say no ... anyway ...) So, after the tour I went in to my daughter's classroom to debrief with her teacher. Her teacher said that all week she has been dealing with a couple parents getting angry with her because their child didn't pass the test and demanding to know why her curriculum had failed to prepare their children for the test. Then the other kindergarten teacher came in and agreed. "It's relentless," she said, "Parents begging me to write appeal letters to get their children in when it is by far not the right program for their child but the parents don't want to hear that from me."

What is really comes down to in my opinion is that attitude is awful for the child. How would anyone feel being 6 years old and being told that you are a normal kid doing your best and that is not special or good enough? Of course, nobody is going to listen to me on that subject because then they'll say "did your daughter pass" and I'd have to say "Yes, but it's not a big deal," and then I'd hear, "It's not a big deal to you because she passed!" My husband was a child prodigy and we've talked a lot about not doing that to our daughter and it's something we both feel strongly about so I guess we come from a different perspective. What I want more than anything is for my daughter to find a path in life doing something she loves and to be a kind and caring person and that can be done no matter what IQ she has. She could have enormous learning disabilities and still find a path to do what she loves and be a kind, caring person. I don't know why in our "upper-middle-class uber-liberal" neighborhood where everyone is so damned politically correct they can't see that and treat their kids like show dogs.

The other day I couldn't help it, I burst out to one of my co-workers, "Aaagh! I'm ready to just move to the woods and homeschool at this point" to which she said "Amen to that, Sister."

I know, I need to learn to be more tolerant of my fellow humans, but it is not my strong point when I see them being unkind to their own children and these women who are paid way too little to teach all of our kids and put their whole lives and heart into the task.

Meanwhile, it is good I am in therapy again because yesterday I stopped at Fred Meyer in Bothell to get a sandwich to take up the stable and I was hit by a feeling of overwhelming sadness and almost started *crying* in the middle of the store because I thought to myself, "I wish I could live in the country" and the sadness I felt was so strong I almost started crying. I really don't understand why after three years of wanting to move out of the city and it not being an option for our family I can't convince myself emotionally to be happy where I am.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

wide awake at 3am

I woke up at 3am this morning and was completely awake. It was really annoying. I think the problem was stressing about everything I have to get done. Now, that I have two free hours I'm wondering "What was it I have to get done again?" I have a board meeting for the non-profit that I am (volunteer) executive director for tomorrow evening and I have to have a bunch of workshop materials ready for approval by the board. I actually have most of that all ready, I just apparently like to stress about it at 3am anyway. I also had a horrific nightmare which in retrospect was not as scary as it seemed in the dream.

I was living in a big open warehouse space with a bunch of people and my bedroom was a little tiny loft space off in the corner, underneath the open second floor loft space. There was a big party going on and I was walking up the stairs to the bathroom on the second floor when I passed a guy standing on the landing. No one else noticed him except for me. He was standing in the corner of the landing wearing a wind breaker with a hood and it was zipped up all the way to his face and the hood was pulled down and tied around his face. I immediately knew he was there to kill me. I ran back downstairs and he walked up the stairs (in a lurching Frankenstein sort of way) and I knew that he thought I was asleep in a bedroom up there. I felt safer for a second knowing that wasn't my bedroom, then thought, "How long will it be before he finds my *real* bedroom though? Certainly only a couple hours at most!" Then I woke up. See - doesn't sound very scary does it? But I literally woke up in a cold sweat with my heart beating really hard.

Girlfriend has been doing really well the last couple weeks now that she has been getting ridden at least a couple times a week. This morning I got there at an inconvenient time. Juan had just put her halter and lead rope on to take her out to the pasture with Doc when I got there, so he didn't take her out because I was going to ride her. She's extremely herd-bound with Doc and being a sensitive girl she got very upset and was stomping and whinnying in her stall.

I went and got her tack then came back and took her out of stall. She did a little dance at her stall door as though testing where I was at with my authority and if she could get away breaking away from me to go see Doc. I stood my ground and calming and firmly said, "You're ok. We're going to do a little work now then you'll see Doc. You're fine." I took her down to the cross ties and her ears were straight forward and her eyes were wild with that intense, "Where is he? Where is he? Am I safe? I don't know if I'm safe!" way that she gets when her routine changes. When I got her in the cross ties she tried to turn around in a circle and when that didn't work, got anxious and tried to turn the other direction. I know the thing to do is to stay calm and calm her down, which I did. I gave her a treat and talked soothingly to her and gently, but firmly touched her all over to help ground her. But in the back of mind I was thinking, "She's getting really upset - what will I do if this escalates? I don't know how to handle the situation if her anxiety escalates!" but I kept pushing those thoughts aside and telling her she was fine and went about my usual routine of grooming her.

By the time I was done grooming her she was totally back to her normal self and was fine when I took her in the arena to ride. She tried to take off when I mounted and I yanked back the reins and said "Whoa" right when I stood up in the stirrup (I'm trying to get the timing down like Sheryl showed me but it takes practice) so she stopped long enough for my butt to hit the saddle then she started trotting. I gave the reins a firm pull and said, "Whoooa," quietly and she ignored me. So, I let her trot about a quarter of the way around the arena and then tried again and this time she relaxed to a walk (and I was finally able to get my right foot in the stirrup). Then after a couple laps walking in the arena she had totally calmed down.

The rest of our ride was really great except for the canter. She's doing a lot better at the trot and I'm doing a lot better going to the right with the trot and keeping her in a circle without her dancing off into the inside of the circle. But apparently I am really over-signaling the canter because the two times we tried to canter today she'd lower head, buck and bolt and it would take about a minute to even her out to a slow, steady canter. It definitely is NOT a graceful English transition! I really don't think I could ride another horse as crazy-hot and sensitive as her. At least I don't think I'd have the confidence too. But I've been surprised lately how well I ride her.

One of the students at the stable just adopted a rehabilitated wild Mustang who is 4 years old and I said to the instructor, "Hey, now my horse won't be the hardest horse in the stable to ride!" to which she just shook her head and said, "Don't count on it." I said, "But her horse was a wild Mustang," and she said, "There's nothing wrong with your horse. She's just not a beginner horse and she's not a lesson horse. There is nothing wrong with that." I wonder if I'd be a better rider if for the last 18 months I'd been taking lessons on a beginner horse, or if I'm a better rider because I've been taking lessons on "the hottest horse Sheryl has ever seen in her life"?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

one of those "my worst fear" moments

Ok, it's not even remotely up there with my worst fear, but it's not something I ever wanted to happen. I hadn't been to church for a couple weeks and had no idea what was going on today. I walked in and one of my friends asked if I could last minute help with Sunday school and I said sure. Then at "children's time" nobody went up to tell the children's story. That is the time at beginning of church when all the kids go sit on the front steps by the altar and whatever adult is assigned that week, tells them a quick story - usually something spiritual or educational (although occasionally the adult will bomb and it will be a weird couple minutes of random babbling). Anyway, everybody is looking around muttering, "Who's doing children's time?" and the pastor says, "Julia - it's you!"

Luckily, it turns out I did not actually say "SHIT!" out loud like I later wondered if I did. I just thought it loudly. And I looked at the pastor trying to psychically convey, "What the fuck?! Help!!!" then went up there to totally wing it. Apparently, I pulled it off because my friend Chris said that was amazing that I was able to pull something out of my ass like that to talk about at the spur of the moment.

Earlier this morning I had read a quote by Flannery O'Connor which was "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you ... odd." So, I said I'd liked that quote and that sometimes that is true when you're a kid and there is peer pressure to do stuff that you know in your heart is not right. Like if other kids are making fun of someone and you know in your heart it is not the kind, right thing to do, it may make you unpopular for a little while, but it is better to follow what you know in your heart is right, then to follow the crowd if they're doing something cruel. Then I asked the kids (who were from 2 to 7 years old) if they could think of anything that had happened to them or they'd seen on tv or read in a book that was like that. They all shook their heads and I said, "Yeah well, that's fine. I totally know what it's like to suddenly be up in front of people and have nothing to say and be on the spot."

Meanwhile, I continue to obsess on how I can find a way to make a living out in the country so we can move out of the city. Still haven't found the answer. I've been perusing some online ads for ranch work but not finding much that I am qualified for. And that brings up the problem of if I'm supporting the family doing ranch work so we can live in the country, how will we afford health insurance?

Yesterday was sunny and freakishly warm for February in Seattle, so we let the chickens free range in the backyard all day, which they loved. Woodia kept running under my feet and pecking at my boots and trying to follow me into the house. She is one food-crazed little chicken. I'm never sure if she's able to scoop up enough mash with her cross-beak but she has grown quite a bit since we got her and other than being constantly hungry and food obsessed she is doing well. I may need to research better ways to make sure she eats enough to get full. It wouldn't be any fun to be hungry all the time like that - at least it wasn't for me when I was anorexic. And it's probably still not any fun even if you're a very dumb bird.

I haven't had time to go out and see Girlfriend this weekend. I had a lesson with her Friday morning which actually went really well, but I'm still kind of going through horse withdrawal today. And I am still looking for a good wireless webcam for my chicken cam. My husband has made some suggestions of cheap ones I can look into. Some people think it's a great idea and some people think I'm a freak. Thus is the story of my life.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

mild winter

Our winter here in the Pacific NW has been super mild this year. Some of the bulbs started sprouting a couple weeks ago and there are even some crocuses up. I am already getting in the mood to start my spring gardening. I think I can probably start planting my starts soon although I have a couple more months before I can safely plant any vegies outside and miss any unexpected frosts.

Yesterday I went for a walk with some old friends about 5 miles around the neighborhood. One of my friends is a landscaper so she was talking all about plants that we were passing in people's gardens. I can only aspire to know so much about plants! This year I am going to pay a lot more attention to my soil in the vegetable garden. I'm starting to find soil interesting the same way compost is interesting. That said, I am going to order a compost thermometer as soon as I finish this post so that I can start really watching our chicken manure compost bin and make sure it gets hot enough to burn off the harmful bacteria, but not so hot it ends up killing off all the beneficial nitrogen from the chicken poop. Geez. So much to learn!

So, either Alina or Woodia-the-cross-beak (whoever was laying the green egg) has stopped laying eggs now that Janey has started laying her brown speckled eggs. I imagine they will be on a more consistent schedule of laying eggs once spring actually comes, but I can't help but wonder what's going on with that. Do they have some kind of pact that only one has to lay eggs at a time so that we don't eat them therefore getting to be lazy to a certain point, but not to the point where we declare them free-loaders and make pot pie with them?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

away we go

We watched a movie called Away We Go about a couple traveling around the country trying to find the perfect place to settle down and call home to raise their child. I feel like doing that sometimes - traveling around until we find the farm I'm looking for with the creek at the back of the property and no serial killers hanging out in the woods. But I think my husband is stuck on staying in the Pacific NW. I'm still trying to figure out a place that we could both enjoy living. Sometimes - like today - it feels like a losing proposition though and that place doesn't actually exist because there just aren't any farms in the city.

On a happier note I got out of the house early enough to go see Girlfriend this morning. We had an ok ride, she was very amped and not wanting to listen to me. I made her trot a lot more than I usually do because I really want her to get back to doing that well. She was getting a lot better than that then Emma June and I both got sick and the few weeks of her not being ridden was a set back for her. I have been letting her roll in the arena after our ride and then run the barrel pattern at top speed for a few minutes which makes her happy. But only if she cooperates during our practice rides.

I took Willow-the-pitbull with me this morning for some company and took her for a walk around the farm. I took her out to the pastures where the horses were turned out because I'm trying to get her used to horses. Right now she gets all riled up like she's just seen the biggest dogs in the world. This morning Tyee (who is just barely over 2 years old and very aggressive and too smart for his own good) saw Willow and came galloping and whinnying across the pasture to stand by the fence and stare at her. At first Willow cowered, then she sidled up to the fence which made Tyee jump and toss his head and whinny again, which made Willow scurry behind me. Then Tyee put his head down over the fence until Willow got up the courage to sneak up to the fence and touch Tyee's nose. Unfortunately, right then, Dallah (the cranky old mare that is obstinate enough to be turned out with Tyee because she'll put him in his place) saw what was going on and let out an angry snort and came tearing over to the fence charging in rage at Willow. Willow ran behind me again, so I turned with my back to the gate to comfort her. Next thing I knew, Tyee was trying to eat my hair. I'm glad that Tyee and Willow might actually be friends. Tyee is a very cool horse. He's part draft horse so he's huge already for a baby and he is very smart. But he is a handful and has only recently stopped trying to bite me when I'm around him.